Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Books on My Fall TBR

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

I rarely stick to set TBRs but I'm truly going to try to read all of these books before the year is out. I plan on filling my October TBR full of creepy and horror reads so I may get side-tracked with those. There are just so many good books out there; how can one choose what to read anymore?

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's topic is: Top Ten Books on my Fall TBR.

The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle: I'm definitely intrigued with the synopsis. There's a family that seems to be cursed as accidents mysteriously occur around the same time each year. Yet, they all survive them. It sounds strange which is the perfect type of book I'm looking for to get me into the Halloween feels this year.

The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker: This one has been sitting on my shelf for so long. (Actually, most of these books have been sitting on my shelf for too long. Oops.) I haven't been reading supernatural/paranormal lately. However, this fall I plan to dive right in to several. This one is half supernatural, half fantasy with a magical world backdrop. It sounds like my cup of tea!

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera: What book I really want to read of his is his latest, They Both Die at the End. However, I told myself I can't buy anymore of his books until I decide if I like his writing or not. More Happy Than Not follows the journey of a boy who considers altering his memory to forget his feelings for his best friend.

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh: I'm seeing a pattern here; I will purchase the book when it first releases and then I won't read it until months later. There are just so many books! I adored Renee Ahdieh's The Wrath and the Dawn duology so I needed to read her Mulan retelling. And I will read it this fall, hopefully. Girl power, here we come!

Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen (1/30/18): This book doesn't release until next year! However, Bloomsbury sent me an ARC to get started early. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Shalia is Queen of the Bonelands. Her husband vows to exterminate all the Elementae, those who can control fire, wind, earth, and air. Shalia, herself, discovers her own powers which, if found by others, could be dangerous. It sounds like a mix between The Last Airbender and X-men, doesn't it? I can't wait for it to release!

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon: This book was definitely bought because of the hype. However, it also sounds like a book that I will absolutely love. Arranged marriages, summer camp, and a super cute romance: count me in!

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater: I just finished the first in The Raven Cycle series, The Raven Boys. It was such a fantastic book and I can't wait to read the next one, The Dream Thieves.

Shutter by Laurie Faria Stolarz: Stolarz is one of my favorite authors. I will read anything by her. Shutter follows a young photographer who falls for a boy who is accused of killing his parents. The photographer, Day, plans to prove his innocence by showing everyone the side of him she sees. This book sounds a bit different than what she has published before so I'm excited to see where she goes with this story.

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly: If you follow me on Instagram, you would know that I love taking pictures of this book. It is so gorgeous, complete with a vintage map of New York City. Yet, even though I'm so picture-happy with this book, I've never once read it. When Jo's father is mysteriously killed, it is up to Jo to crack the case wide open.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab: I confess, I have crumbled in the face of this hype. There is so much hype surrounding this series and I'm so curious as to why. The story sounds incredibly original and I'm always on the look out to read more about alternate universes. The cover is beautiful. Hopefully, by winter, I will have read this whole series and can join in the discussion.

What are you reading this fall? Which book should I read first?

book review

Raise Those Pirate Flags | Blacksouls by Nicole Castroman

Friday, September 15, 2017

Blacksouls by Nicole Castroman

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: 4/11/17
Pages: 400
Source: publisher in exchange for honest review

Nicole Castroman brings the dangerous pirate ports of the Caribbean to life in this vibrant sequel to Blackhearts—the reimagined origin story of history’s most infamous pirate, Blackbeard.

Edward “Teach” Drummond is setting sail to the Caribbean as first mate on the most celebrated merchant ship in the British fleet—until he rebels against his captain. Mutiny is a capital offense and Teach knows it could cost him his life, but he believes it worth the risk in order to save his crew from the attacking Spanish ships.

Sailing on the same blue waters, Anne barely avoids the Spanish attack, making it safely to Nassau. But lawless criminals, corrupt politics, and dangerous intentions fill the crowded streets of this Caribbean port. Soon, Anne discovers that the man entrusted to keep the peace is quite possibly the most treacherous of them all—and he just happens to hold Teach’s fate in his terrifying hands.

Life and death hang in the balance when Teach and Anne are given a dangerous mission. It’s a mission that will test their love, loyalty and devotion, forcing them down a path neither one could have ever imagined.

Blacksouls by Nicole Castroman begins right where we left off in Blackhearts. Anne is sailing to a ruthless island in the Caribbean. And Teach is close behind her, intent on reaching her before anything dire happens. However when they arrive, Teach is charged with mutiny and the only way out is to make a deal with the governor. He must track down a notorious pirate and return him to the island. But all is not what they seem. Blacksouls continues Blackbeard’s origin story in this wild, action packed adventure. 

  perfect flag pirates pirate flag GIF
  • It’s so good to return to the characters I adored in the first book. Anne, brave and wise, has just as much sass as the previous novel, if not more. Her character will make you laugh out loud at some of her thoughtless outbursts and unbelievable antics. However, whereas Anne seemed to run the show in Blackhearts, Teach's story seems to develop much further in this one. After all, the Blackhearts series is a retelling of Blackbeard's origins. Teach has always been a favorite of mine; he has a heart of gold and the obstacles he had to overcome pushed him to his limits. It was interesting to see what direction he chose.
  • Blacksouls is a superb sequel with a new setting and some new characters, it adds something fresh to the mix, as if starting the story again. Readers get a look at Nassau, the home of Anne's mother, and from the stories told in the previous book, you will be surprised to find—instead of beauty and community—there’s ruthlessness and piracy.
  • That’s right, there's pirates! I adore any book with pirates. And was a bit disappointed to find that Blackhearts didn't offer many pirates for a book promising just those types of scoundrels. To make up for it, Castroman definitely delivers in Blacksouls. We not only get awesome pirates but there's battles on the open seas and ruthless characters! Blacksouls has the perfect ingredients for a book to enjoy during the warmer months; it is a summer blockbuster, action packed with gorgeous imagery that will make you turn the pages faster.
  • The new cast of characters is incredibly diverse and as the story progresses, we get to know almost each and every one of their stories.  My new favorite pair had to be the sibling duo, Coyle and Cara. Their easy banter back and forth, paired with their outgoing personalities made them so easy to love. 
  • It was interesting how quick Anne made the parallels between her parents and Beth and Alistair. For I didn't really see their relationship for what it was until a little later in the book. Also, it irked me that not only Anne mentioned things I didn't notice until much later, Teach started noticing things that were not initially explained. These claims lacked introduction. How does he know more about this than I do, when I have been with Anne the whole time, and he only just showed up? It seemed that Castroman wanted her characters to be at a certain point without fully leading up to—or developing—such things.
  • I couldn't help but draw parallels between the ending and Blackhearts' ending. Both made me want to continue reading this story. It's not necessarily a cliff hanger but Castroman leaves you with a lead-in that makes you want to have the next book in your hands as soon as possible.
 johnny depp goodbye pirates of the caribbean GIF


Nicole Castroman is a great storyteller and definitely raised the bar with this sequel. Blacksouls is sure to keep you on your toes with nonstop action and fantastic characters. 

Blackhearts (2/9/16): 3 stars
Blacksouls (4/11/17): 3 stars

book discussion

10 Items I Need in my Dream Library

Thursday, September 14, 2017

When Pinterest was first becoming popular, I noticed a lot of people planning out their dream weddings. However, I was never into picking out the cutest venue or the best color scheme. For me, Pinterest was for planning my dream library.

When I get my own place, I will definitely be choosing the apartment on if it includes a room to build my dream library. I’ve put a lot of time and thought into what my library will look like. I’ve even sketched it for you though it is a work in progress. It will be gorgeous! Besides books (because, of course, my library will include tons of them!), here are 10 things my dream library will include:

Floor to ceiling bookshelves 

I wouldn’t mind built-in floor to ceiling bookshelves but these shelves from Ikea will work perfectly. I’m going for a modern but comfortable sort of look.  Also, if I have tall ceilings, I will be sure to get a sliding ladder. I could feel like Belle from Beauty and the Beast every time I go to my shelves.

 disney book beauty and the beast library belle GIF

Hidden door

I’ve watched so many historical movies or spy movies where the characters find a hidden door by pulling a book-lever or there’s a door that matches the interior so well, it is difficult to see at first. I’m leaning towards a door that matches the interior. In this case, the hidden door will double as a bookshelf. I couldn’t find a picture of this, but how cool would it be to have the doorknob disguised a book? To open the door, one would have to pull the handle on the spine of the book.

Variety of seating options

When I read, I am always changing position. My foot will fall asleep, my arm will get numb. On average, I change reading positions at least 19 times during the time it takes to read one book. Therefore, I need a variety of seating options such as a comfy couch, an arm chair, a window seat and a desk chair.

Coffee table

I’ve always wanted a coffee table. Not just any old coffee table, I want a table with a glass top so you can make it your own. My friends have a huge table that showcases their bottle cap collection. With my coffee table, I would love to showcase a map to Middle Earth from Lord of the Rings.

View out of the window

Reading with noise doesn’t bother me too much. However, I’ve noticed I read best when there is mostly quiet. My home library should face a gorgeous view, like an ocean or field, for inspiring thoughts and peaceful reading.

An accent wall of art prints and fan merchandise

Three of my walls are going to be covered in ceiling to floor bookshelves. The fourth wall is my accent wall filled with artwork from fandoms I absolutely adore. The wall will be colorful but organized. Society6, Etsy, and Redbubble are the best places to find amazing pieces. EvieSeo, Bookworm Boutique, and The Bookish Dreams are some of my favorite shops to buy bookish merchandise from.


My library would not be complete without a desk.

Hard wood floors with comfy rug

I think hard wood floors gives the space more character. With flooring like that, it gives you the options to get more creative with what kind of rugs you choose to have.

Floor heating system

South Korea spoiled me with their under-the-floor heating system, while I was living there. It is a system rigged with water pipes and when you turn up your water heater, it boils the water underneath the floor which makes your floor nice and toasty. Sometimes I like to read on the floor and during the winter months, it is not possible since it’s so cold. However, with an under-the-floor heating system, I could read on the floor anytime I want.

Variety of lighting options

Just like my seating options, I always change what light I read from. On sunny days, I prefer to read with just the sun shining in the window. During rainy days, I always set a candle and read by my desk lamp. When I read at night, I tend to read with the ceiling light on. In my library, I will definitely have plenty of natural lighting, a desk lamp, candles and a ceiling light.

What does your dream home library look like?

Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Books I Loved Before I Started Blogging

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

I started avidly reading a few years before I started blogging. This means that I have tons of books that I never got the chance to review or that I’ve never shared with you. However, today, I’m throwing it back to before the blog was even born to give you a taste of what kind of books I loved before 2010.

Top Ten Tuesday is created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is: 10 Books I Loved Before I Started Blogging. Since The Bucket List just celebrated a 7 year blogiversary, I am so glad to be sharing this sort-of throwback post with you. Here’s some amazing books I loved (and still love today) before I started blogging:

Zombies vs. Unicorns edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier (9/21/10): Zombies vs. Unicorns is an anthology filled with stories written by great authors who have chosen their side: team zombies or team unicorns. The stories are so much fun! Before going into this book, I remember I didn’t know much about these authors but found that I adored each and every story in the anthology. Plus, I’m team zombie all the way!

Blue is for Nightmares by Laurie Faria Stolarz (11/8/03): Stacey is having nightmares about her best friend. The last time she ignored her nightmares, a little girl died. This time, Stacey vows not to make the same mistake. This series is truly fantastic. Stolarz, to this day, is still one of my favorite authors. Her writing is magnificently chilling.

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien (7/29/1954): In middle school, I was obsessed with these movies. I knew every word said by Frodo in the movies, collected Gollum figurines, and dressed up as an elf for Halloween. The Fellowship of the Ring is the first book in the Lord of the Rings trilogy that is a must read for any fantasy-lover. After watching the movies a hundred times, I read the books at least that many. The world building is absolutely astounding and the magic of the story will always stay with me.

Going Bovine by Libba Bray (9/22/09): After Cameron gets some bad news, he embarks on an adventure of a lifetime with a dwarf and a garden gnome. I love love love this book. So much in fact, I made all of my friends and family read it just to share the ridiculousness and pain that comes from reading Going Bovine.

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (3/27/07): Over the years, Clare’s series has really blown up with spin-offs and sequels. The hype is well warranted because, not only, is her world building genius but her characters and stories are absolutely delightful. In the first year of blogging, I hosted a City of Bones book discussion which many of you joined. I think it’s time for a series reread!

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles (12/23/08): When Brittany is partnered with Alex to do a chemistry project, she knows that her secrets will soon be found out. Fun fact: this is actually the book that made me a book reviewer. Growing up, I didn’t know many other readers so after reading Perfect Chemistry, I just needed to get my thoughts about it on paper. I started a personal book review journal which I filled up two large tomes before beginning the blog. If you are looking for a really good contemporary that gives you all the feels, Perfect Chemistry is it.

The Princess Bride by William Goldman (1973): After reading Isolde and enjoying the movie, I wanted to give more book-to-film adaptations a try. The Princess Bride movie has always been one of my favorites, I can recite some scenes word for word. When I discovered it was based on a book, I just had to read it and see how closely each compare. In truth, I like the movie a little more (probably because that is what I saw first). However, the book is, equally, fantastic with quotable dialogue, in-depth action sequences, and fun characters.

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen (11/20/07): The Luxe follows several characters in the drama-filled 1890s in Manhattan. This book, at the time, was very much out of my comfort zone. Primarily, before I started my blog, I read paranormal and fantasy books. The Luxe is a historical drama that will have you stressed out (you know, in a good way). This is also one of the first books I started to ship people with. I’m still routing for Diana and Henry, even though the series have long since ended.

Isolde, the Queen of the Western Isle by Rosalind Miles (6/24/03): Star-crossed lovers threaten their home to be with each other. I’ve mentioned many times that Isolde, the first in a trilogy, was the book that started it all. If it wasn’t for these amazing characters, non-stop action, and stressful (but fantastic) drama, I would not be a reader today. Rosalind Miles is an absolute genius when it comes to luring readers in and keeping them wanting more.

Stolen: A Letter to my Captor by Lucy Christopher (5/4/09): Gemma is kidnapped and taken to the Australian Outback by her captor, Ty. The lines between love, dependency, and obsession blur in the months Gemma is held captive. At a recent trip to Barnes and Noble, I came across this book. Publishers have just redesigned the cover. It has been so long since I’ve heard anything about this masterpiece. It’s a short read but incredibly powerful.

What older books do you adore?

book review

Limited Pirates but Promising Start | Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman

Friday, September 01, 2017

Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: 2/9/16
Pages: 384
Source: purchased

Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything.

Edward "Teach" Drummond, son of one of Bristol's richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There's just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.

Following her parents' deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to CuraƧao—where her mother was born—when she's stuck in England? 

From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.

Before Blackbeard was a ferocious pirate who sailed the ocean blue, he was a merchant’s son, falling for a lovely girl. Edward, though he much prefers to go by Teach, arrives back on land after a year at sea and his only goal is—not to marry his promised betrothed but to—return to the sea. That is until he meets Anne, a maid working for his father. However, Anne is keeping secrets, many of them, and he intends to find out what they are. In Blackhearts, it is a tale of romance and tragedy, introducing readers to a magnificent new series, documenting Blackbeard’s origin.

The Romance

  • The progression of Teach and Anne’s relationship, especially of how she read aloud to him every night, is considerably so romantic. There’s only a few other stories, I have come across that characters fall in love after being read to and I think it’s a gorgeous beginning of a relationship. Read to me and I will fall in love.
  • I was a little less willing to trust Teach in the beginning. There just seemed to be so many facets to his character. His willingness to be out on the sea but his easy, flowing life of returning to his land-lover life that he left a year before made me wary about what he truly desired. His intentions were never really clear to me despite getting full chapters of following him around (the narrative is however in 3rd person).
  • Castroman writes historical incredibly well, and not in a history textbook type of way either. She is still able to bring across Anne’s sass despite her status as a maid. It is quite brilliant and something that easily made me love Anne as a character.

Limited Pirates, Great Potential

  • So I went into this knowing very little. When I first bought it, I was so excited to read about some pirates, I was thinking it was a retelling of Blackbeard. However, a fellow blogger broke the news to me. Be warned, there is little pirate magic in this one. Despite that, I liked it exceptionally.
  • It is good to note that while pirates do not play a huge role in the story, it does not mean that they are entirely nonexistent in Blackhearts. I was surprised to find piracy a big issue for Blackhearts and something I am definitely looking forward to Castroman exploring in later novels.

The Ending

  • As much as in the beginning Anne and Teach definitely had something going for them, by the end of the novel, Castroman seemed to be missing a significant part in the progression of their relationship. It got to the point that it felt incredibly rushed, out of place. Their feelings for each other, especially Teach’s curiosity turned love seemed totally unfounded. It certainly had great potential and given a bit more time together—instead of just mentioning that they walked through the gardens, give me some of those scenes—I probably would have begun to warm up to their romantic fondness for each other.
  • The characters, more importantly Anne and Teach, are who drive the force of the novel. Apart, each character is magnificent in their own ways. I hope to continue reading more about them and get to delve deeper into the story with them in the future.
  • The action was somewhat dimmed. Again, there was tons of potential and it could have gone in so many unexpected ways. Castroman put Anne and Teach in some precarious positions that could have been drawn out further for suspense or described in a bit more detail for readers’ heightened awareness.
  • The ending does leave me wanting more. The direction in which the story is headed gives me hope that the series will surely get better with each sequel. 


Blackhearts was a promising start to what definitely could be an awesome series of how Blackbeard becomes the pirate we know today.

Blackhearts (2/9/16): 3 stars
Blacksouls (4/11/17): TBD